Archives for posts with tag: boycott

On 13 February, a letter was published in the Guardian, announcing,

we will not engage in business-as-usual cultural relations with Israel. We will accept neither professional invitations to Israel, nor funding, from any institutions linked to its government. Since the summer war on Gaza, Palestinians have enjoyed no respite from Israel’s unrelenting attack on their land, their livelihood, their right to political existence. “2014,” says the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, was “one of the cruellest and deadliest in the history of the occupation.” The Palestinian catastrophe goes on.

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In an interview conducted in Jerusalem with the Albanian novelist Ismail Kadare for Agence France-Presse, it was proposed to the recipient of Israel’s ‘Freedom of the Individual in Society’ 2015 award that, ‘Here in Jerusalem, the Palestinians could object that their freedom is restricted,’ to which he responded:

I haven’t asked myself the question. I am a writer. I create literature. I come from one of the rare countries in the world that helped the Jews during the war […]. The [Albanian] population has always defended the Jews, under the monarchy, under communism, after communism. That is why I have not thought about that other problem here (that of the Palestinians).

Kadare clearly feels his self-image is not enhanced by any reflections on the suffering of Palestinians, as it is when linking his national identity with the salvation of European Jews. Never has the historical murder of millions been so beneficial to an artist’s brand. In such a context, a contemporary injustice is merely inconvenient:

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The winner of the Jerusalem Prize for 2015 has been announced: 79-year old Albanian author, Ismail Kadare.

If he chooses to accept the accolade, Kadare will be awarded the prize by the Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, in an invitation-only ceremony on Sunday 8 February which will mark the opening of the Jerusalem International Book Fair. In 2011, author Ian McEwan was the subject of a campaign led by British Writers in Support of Palestine (BWISP) that took the form of an exchange in the letters page of the Guardian. BWISP expressed ‘profound disagreement with his decision to accept the Jerusalem prize,’ reminding McEwan that ‘the Jerusalem Municipality, which awards the Prize, openly pursues apartheid urban planning policies.’ As British-Palestinian filmmaker, Omar Al-Qattan wrote in response to McEwan’s widely lauded acceptance speech, ‘He refers to the Jerusalem prize, which he accepted despite the pleas of his admirers and colleagues, as a “tribute to a precious tradition of democracy of ideas in Israel”, giving the example of a novella about the destruction of a Palestinian village that was required reading in Israeli schools. He fails to mention, however, that while this precious tradition was maintained, so were the expulsions, military rule, house demolitions, confiscation of land and homes, bombing of refugee camps and so on…. McEwan should at least have had the decency to compare the astonishing achievements of Palestinian artists who have moved the world with their work, with a fraction of the support available to their Israeli counterparts.’

Four years on, Israeli human rights defender Ilana Hammerman has written a piece in the Hebrew edition of Ha’aretz (29 January 2015), entitled ‘Freedom of the Individual in the Shuafat Refuse Heaps,’ which has been translated into English by Richard Flantz. (h/t Sol Salbe)

FREEDOM OF THE INDIVIDUAL AT THE SHUAFAT REFUSE HEAPS

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A series of five minute plays will be premiered in London next week, 26-31 January, responding to issues of censorship and boycotts in the arts. Offstage Theatre, in association with Theatre Uncut, have commissioned playwrights Caryl Churchill, Ryan Craig, April De Angelis, Tim Fountain, Hannah Khalil, Neil LaBute, Hattie Naylor, Gbolahan Obisesan, Julia Pascal, Evan Placey, Mark Ravenhill and Sarah Solemani; several of whom were outspoken in their support of London’s Tricycle Theatre that was vilified in the press over its offer to UK Jewish Film to replace Israeli embassy funds for its annual film festival.

Offstage Theatre company names the events of Summer 2014, including the Tricycle decision, as the inspiration for this series of short plays: in July at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Underbelly pulled an Israeli show, The City, after protests in solidarity with the Palestinian people, and in September, the Barbican closed the live art installation Exhibit B, following protests that it dehumanised Africans.

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